Northrop embraces new role as community school


Many changes have come to Northrop Urban Environmental Learning Center (4315 31st Ave. S.) this year. Among them is a change in designation from magnet school to community school as part of the Minneapolis Public Schools’ Changing School Options plan. Two key objectives of the plan are to reduce trans portation costs districtwide and to educate students closer to home. As a result, Northrop now serves as the community school for K-5 students in parts of the Standish, Ericsson, Northrop, Bancroft, Corcoran, and Powderhorn Park neighborhoods.

 Another significant change this year came about with the retire ment of Northrop’s former principal, Dr. Kathy Alvig, and the welcoming of a new principal, Ray Aponte, who brings 25 years of experience with Minneapolis Public Schools to the job.

 “I am pleased to be joining the Northrop community,” Aponte says. “I value Northrop’s environmental focus. For the past 20 years, my wife and I have been practicing concepts that reflect good environmental stewardship. We support local businesses, urban green projects, community gardens, and alternative trans portation. I look forward to promoting partnerships at Northrop that will reinforce this environmental focus.”

 One thing that remains unchanged is Northrop’s commitment to its mission: to ensure that each Northrop student receives a balanced, individual, and rigorous education embracing all aca demic disciplines with environmental education as its core. Toward realizing this goal, Northrop again welcomed students from the University of St. Catherine in a special partnership called EcoSTARS. The college students work in classrooms teaching lessons in environmental science. Northrop students conduct research with the college students, and the information collected is added to an international database. Some topics include weather, hydrology, and soil science.

 The S.T.E.M. Program (for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) also took root this year as a pilot program in partnership with the Science Museum of Minnesota. Northrop students are being introduced to the engineering design process and are becoming involved with real-world problems and local, environmental landform issues such as how erosion along the Mississippi River affects homeowners and the effects of zebra mussels in Lake Minnetonka.

 Northrop is a K-5 community school offering three full-day kindergarten classrooms and a High Five half-day preschool program. Families of prospective students are invited to tour Northrop Nov. 30 through Feb. 8 to see all that it has to offer. Please contact Northrop’s family liaisons at (612) 668-4546 to schedule a tour. For more information about Northrop Urban Environmental Learning Center, visit the website (http://